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Undimmed by cloud or shade of night. - 60%

Diamhea, March 12th, 2018

I've sort of flip-flopped on my opinion of Serbia's Númenor over the last few years. 2015's Sword and Sorcery felt like an exceptionally forced pseudo-conceptual rabble of genre conventions, all congealed into an exasperatedly average final product. Sure, some rousing keyboard sections buoyed the otherwise paper-thin atmosphere stapled together by Tolkien buzzwords, but it wasn't a complete loss. And now we get Chronicles from the Realms Beyond, an album that feels less tethered to the concept and more free-floating in its delivery of second-rate power metal riffs. Númenor still throw a lot at the listener, but they lowered the pretense bar a bit, so more of this sticks.

Anyway, the myriad of vocal styles is still attempted here, from blackened Summoning-esque imp crooning to half-decent gruff "singing." A female vocalist also makes sporadic appearances to marginal effect. Leads are splattered all over this thing, sweeping in and out of proceedings, granting the record at least some sense of urgency. Tracks like "Beyond the Doors of the Night" feel tangibly aggressive, but the video game synths really sound out of place. Chronicles from the Realms Beyond could work if the band threw in a few more corporeal symphonics and cranked the rhythm guitars a bit more. There are actually solid riffs here, but the production seems a bit shy about showcasing them properly.

That said, the harder-hitting chugs of "Moria" contrasted well with the female guest vocals, and the orchestral breather "Realms Beyond" showed promise, albeit a little mawkish at times. The inclusion of Blind Guardian's "Vahalla" at the end might have been a mistake. Although a well-done cover, it shows how lacking Númenor are on a raw songwriting level in comparison.

Chronicles from the Realms Beyond is a slight improvement over Sword and Sorcery, but still nothing special at all. The drums sound pathetic, despite a really solid performance, adding to the growing list of production woes with the release. With a thicker, more forceful sound these guys might begin to move in the right direction. Otherwise, you can live without hearing this one.